Master Path Study Plan: Tactics!
Target Skill Range: Master Path (Rated 2000-2199)
- Solve tactics, tactics, tactics, and ... tactics!
- Solve studies.
- Practice calculation.
- Play blindfold chess.
- Complete these tactics-themed lessons.
You probably thought you were done with tactics, right? Not so! Tactics remains paramount at all levels. Even world champions solve problems daily.
However, by now you should be proficient in tactical themes, and the key to progress will no longer be in improving your mental library of patterns. Instead, the key is to improve your speed, accuracy, imagination, and calculation.
Tactical mastery remains absolutely critical to high-level chess play. At the master-level, you should continue to hone your tactical skill each day.
You should spend about 30 minutes of every day or about four hours a week solving puzzles on Tactics Trainer. At the master path level, the puzzles will be far more complex so don’t worry about the speed of your solving or the total number of puzzles you solve as much as your accuracy.
At the master path level, everyone is proficient in basic tactics. To succeed, it is also necessary to hone your tactical imagination.
Chess studies are one of the best ways to do this. Studies push you to find intricate and creative solutions amidst multiple false leads set by the composer. GM Daniel Naroditsky makes the case for studies in his article, "Why To Solve."
Starting in 2016, Chess.com posts a weekly endgame study from the famed composer IM Yochanen Afek. Solve these studies which are located in our study index.
Finally, complete the video series, Beauty and Entertainment, in which hosts GMs Roman Dzindzichashvili, Eugene Perelshteyn, IM Danny Rensch, and FM Kostya Kavutskiy present their favorite studies and discuss how they they benefited from studies. Be sure to pause the video and attempt all studies before viewing the solution.
At the master level, it is important to combine tactics and calculation with positional evaluations. Practice this skill using the following well-described technique from author Rune Vik-Hansen (Part 1 and Part 2).
Using well-annotated games, identify key moments in the game (usually ones with lots of variations), set up the position on the board, and analyze as deeply as you can. Compare your analysis to the annotators and to an engine's. Strive to identify all of the key variations and evaluate them properly.
There are many excellent sources of annotated games on Chess.com. Here are some popular video series featuring in-depth discussions of games.
My Memorable Games by GM Sam Shankland
You will also find many excellent annotated games in our news reports from major tournaments. In particular, consider GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave’s detailed analysis from the 2016 Candidates tournament.
Blindfold chess is a great way to improve your board vision. At this level, you should be able to comfortably play a blindfold game at normal time controls.
To enable blindfold play on the site, simply go to your https://www.chess.com/settings/board and select “Blindfold” for your piece set. If you wish, you may create a second account for the exclusive purposes of playing blindfold chess. That will allow you to earn a rating for your blindfolded play.
As you play, challenge yourself to be able to state the location of the pieces. After the game, review the play and identify places where you lost sight of the board. Initially, you may wish to play at a longer time control. As you improve, try accelerating the games.
Put your improving skills to the test with the following tactically themed lessons.
At the master level, your sights should be high. Take your time and attempt a 100% solve rate.